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To Shetland with love

Date Sent:    08 AUG 1957

Sender:  Jean

Recipient: Mrs P Anderson Northtown, Tumlin[sic], Bixter, Shetland Is


Having a nice time here & we’ve never seen any rain since we came. We have been up in the city to-day having a look at the shops & have been invite out to see television to-night. Last night Bob and Anna took us to see some places of interest, lovely with all the lights.

Lots love from Jean

Hand written postcard with red stamp

Jean’s postcard is the classic view of the Tower from the south. The White Tower rises majestically above the tree line dominating the skyline realising perfectly William the Conqueror’s vision of power architecture – it’s only a pity that he never lived to see it himself. To one side, 10 Trinity Square looks admiringly on. Very much the newcomer, it was opened in 1922 as the Port of London Authority’s headquarters.

The trees are in full leaf, suggesting summer, and camouflage the stone defences. The conqueror’s castle appears a sylvan oasis amid the urban landscape. Ecologically it continues to defend the capital, providing green lungs to overcome a deadly unseen enemy beyond William’s wildest dreams – pollution.

A view of the white tower surrounded by trees from accross the river

For those of you following these Tower postcards, the view might seem familiar – we’ve featured 3 versions so far – each slightly different. If you click on Postcards from the Tower of London | Royal Armouries you’ll find cards posted on 25 December 1905 (a Christmas card with a difference), 18 June 1920 and an “official” Ministry of Works view taken looking down from Tower Bridge and sent 13 May 1955. Today’s card is confirmed as post-1939 by the pillbox at the east end of the Wharf – a 20th century re-enforced defence against river borne attackers which remained on duty until its demolition in 1959.  Its destruction restored the traditional riverside view of the Tower, but in retrospect is a pity removing as it did a valid piece of the site’s history. The decision is understandable as the country determined to move forward from war, but arguably it was as significant as any previous modifications illustrating how the Tower has adapted to varied challenges over the centuries. Today, as the legacy of the last war’s defences continue to be eroded it might well have survived?

Jean on her London trip was no doubt blissfully unaware of such considerations – it’s not clear if she actually paid her shilling entrance fee to the Tower to look round the site, plus an additional shilling ticket if she wanted to peer at the Crown Jewels in their steel vault in the Wakefield Tower.  Her shopping trip and the invite to an evening’s TV seem to have made more of an impression. Today when most homes have at least one television set and a bountiful selection of channels, 1957’s black and white, two channel evening schedule seems very modest. Television sets remained a luxury item with broadcasting ending after the 10.45pm news.

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